By Nicole Achs Freeling
- Big Expansion of Language Programs Backed
- Move to Reconfigure Dream Schools
Big Expansion of Language Programs Backed
The Board of Education's Curriculum and Program Committee endorsed a resolution last night that would greatly expand the district’s language immersion programs and foreign language offerings. The resolution by Commissioners Dan Kelly, Eric Mar and Norman Yee would seek to provide every student the opportunity to graduate SFUSD with native-language fluency in English and another language. The resolution would “allow parents to decide what second language their children will acquire upon entering the district’s kindergarten.”
The proposal calls upon the superintendent to coordinate a one-year study and develop a plan, to be presented to the board by October 1, 2007, that could be phased in over a number of years. The study would be overseen by a 21-member Blue Ribbon Task Force comprising parents, teachers, school planners, language experts, business organizations and civic leaders in consultation with the district’s bilingual community council. The resolution will be voted on by the full board at the next regular meeting, December 12.
The resolution did not lay out specifics for achieving its goal. Mar said one likely component would be to expand the two-way immersion programs that have been highly popular at the district, and to expand opportunities for such programs beyond fifth grade, at which most of the current programs end.
Move to Reconfigure Dream Schools
With Gloria R. Davis, a "Dream School," unable to recruit students to fill its upper grades, the committee endorsed a proposal to reconfigure the Dream Schools in a way that would relocate or phase out the high school portion.
The Dream School program, established two years ago, is aimed at reforming lower-performing schools with a highly academic curriculum, required student uniforms, a longer school day and Saturday schools. The idea at the time was for Dream Schools to present a unified program running from pre-K through 12th grade. The current Dream Schools are Charles Drew, serving K–3; Willie Brown Jr. serving 4–6; and Gloria R. Davis, which, now serves 7–9. Davis was envisioned as a high school that would run through 12th grade. But it has been unable to recruit new students to upper grades, or retain Dream School students once they reach high school age. Its ninth-grade class currently has 26 students and four teachers.
The district has been looking at reconfiguring the grades at several of the Dream Schools to phase out upper grades. Hoover Liddell, a former district leader serving as a consultant to the superintendent, presented several proposals that community leaders in Bayview and at the affected schools had developed. These included:
- Keep Drew K–3; Have a “Drew” campus at Brown for 4–5 and another campus at Brown for 6-8; and close Davis.
- Close Drew at its current location; open a Drew campus at Brown for K–5; and maintain Davis as a 6–8.
- Keep Drew K–3; Have Brown be 4–5 and Davis serve 6–8. In this model, the focus at Brown would be getting kids to grade level by fifth grade; at Davis, the focus would be on helping students qualify for admission to Lowell, a high school with a merit-based admissions process.
The resolution forwarded to the BOE, which will likely be voted on Tuesday, does not contain any specific proposals, however. Committee members asked staff to continue to work with the Bayview community and gather more public input, presenting specific proposals to the board for consideration at its January 9 meeting. At that point, it could make a decision before Round 1 enrollment applications are due.